Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Month: May 2009

A secret of success that can improve everything for you and your business

The most successful businesspeople work smart. They understand the difference between movement (being busy) and progress (being busy doing the right things.)

Hard work alone is not enough, which is why many of the hardest working people out there, get very average results.

As they say, “if hard work alone was the secret to success, our grandparents would all have been millionaires!”

The secret to business success

I have been fortunate enough to work with and associate with some exceptionally successful people.  One of the common traits I have witnessed with all of them, is that they use a ‘test and measure’ approach to everything of importance in their life and their business.  This test and measure approach is also the cornerstone of successful marketing; so I am going to use a marketing example, to show how it works.

For example, when I write marketing emails, I will test different headlines (sometimes called straplines) against each other and measure the feedback – keeping the most effective headline.  Every element of the email is similarly tested and measured; everything from the number of words used, to the time and the day it’s sent.  This can increase positive response rates by (literally) thousands of percent.

Test and measure for business success

In business, the most successful people constantly test and measure what they are doing.  This is how they manage to grow their businesses so successfully; even during a recession! They study the feedback from everything they do and then set their sail accordingly.  This guarantees they move forward and make regular, measurable progress.  When something is not getting the results they want, they quickly seek to either improve it or replace it.  If something works, they seek to maximise it’s potential.

As a direct result, their businesses grow faster and more reliably than their competitors and they can look to the future with excitement, instead of apprehension.

A new year of the same old year over & over again?

When we compare that approach to the way most businesses operate, we see a major difference!

The so-called ‘average’ business owner will work really hard, yet spend their time repeating what they feel comfortable with.   For example, if they feel comfortable attending networking events and writing marketing letters, that’s how they will market their business – even if this is not the right marketing mix for their business, (which it isn’t for ANY business.)  For these people, 1st January is not the start of a new year – it’s just an opportunity to relive the same old year over and over and over again!

The good news is that any of us can dramatically produce amazing results in our businesses (and in any area of our life for that matter,) when we adopt the test and measure approach. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that we are making the progress required, to get the rewards that our hard work merits.

If your business has reached a plateau or your sales have hit a ceiling, the temptation is to work harder or work longer hours or both.  However, what you really need is an effective marketing strategy to work with.

Why?

Because, even if you row your boat REALLY HARD in the wrong direction, all that hard work will actually take you further away from where you want to be!

What next?

I have prepared a list of ten, highly effective marketing tips for you here, which you can start using right now, to help you take your business to the next level.

I also recommend you subscribe to my marketing newsletter. It’s only sent once every 3 or 4 weeks and each edition contains valuable, free marketing advice.  To get your copy (and your free ebook), simply click here.

Customer service in the Twitter age!

I just received a text message from O2, my mobile / cell phone provider. It turns out that they wanted to let me know that they were about to withdraw one of the benefits of using their service.

However, rather than just admit that, for whatever reason, they were about to withdraw this benefit – they decided to try and “sell” this drop in service as something for me to get excited about.

Here’s what they did!

I get a great service from O2.  So, I called them and was treated to a recorded announcement, from an over-enthusiastic voice actor. He wanted to tell me about some great new changes. The ‘great change’ is that O2 are removing a free service that I value and replacing it with, well, nothing!

It gets worse – because what followed was a sales pitch, to try and get me to buy things from an uninspiring list of companies, which O2 has deals with. In my opinion, these were simply the kind of regular ‘offers’ you get for free in the press.

So, O2 have stopped me receiving a service I wanted and used the removal of this service, as an opportunity to ask me to go and spend money with their “offer partners!”

So, I thought I would share my experience with my readers….

and that’s what this post is all about!

Old style customer service

Until recently, big companies could get away with this kind of behaviour. Their customers had no voice and were largely powerless to do anything. Yes, they could move to another provider, but for a fairly small inconvenience like this, very few customers, if any, would go through he considerable expense of buying their way out of a phone contract.

Social media empowers customers like never before

But, in 2009, customers have a voice. If companies treat customers like fools, under-deliver or fail to back-up their promises, they can pay a hefty cost. Today, people have blogs, social networks and in many cases (like my own), they have access to the attention of  hundreds of thousands of people.

In an interconnected world, it pays more than ever, to ensure your customers expectations are met or exceeded.

Samsung NC10 – It’s brilliant!

Companies can also benefit massively from their customer’s use of social media. For example, I wrote recently about the amazing Samsung NC10 netbook computer and it’s ability to work all day long, on a single charge!  My glowing endorsement of this wonderful machine was all the more powerful, because I have no association with Samsung and gain nothing from endorsing their machine.

That makes this kind of endorsement super-powerful – far more powerful than a paid-for commercial or sponsored post. I know for a fact that people have now bought that computer, because of what I wrote.

If you want to drive up sales and boost the reputation of your brand, make sure you treat people better than they expect and better than your competitors do.

If you want to lose customers and hurt your reputation, just do the opposite!

Owning a hammer doesn’t make you a carpenter!

Here’s why so few people get the marketing results they want from social media tools like blogging, Twitter, FaceBook etc.

If you wanted someone to make you a superbly crafted piece of handmade, wooden furniture, you would go to an experienced carpenter or cabinet maker.  You know that it takes training and dedication in order to develop the skills required, to build beautiful furniture.  You wouldn’t just buy yourself; a hammer, a saw, some wood and nails etc, and expect to immediately be ‘gifted’ the skills required to build it yourself.

For some reason, many people seem to think that different rules apply to anything connected to the Internet!

In marketing, I see people every day, who believe that just because the tools exist online, to help them build a network or community, that all they need to do is start using them.  Then, they start blogging, using FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc and wonder why they see very little commercial progress.

It would be just like giving me a carpenter’s tools and expecting me to build some beautiful furniture – I would end up with nothing more than bruised thumbs and an ugly pile of wood!

The best most people achieve from their online community / network building, is to develop lots of ‘links’ with others, who are equally unaware how to commercially benefit from all these tools.

If you are serious about using social media tools to help you improve your marketing, don’t end up with bruised thumbs! Learn the fundimentals of community building AND THEN start using these amazingly powerful tools.

Expert advice – really?

Thanks to services like lulu.com – anyone can be an author.

Thanks to services like BlogTalkRadio – anyone can be a radio show host.

Thanks to WordPress, TypePad and Blogger etc – anyone can be a journalist.

Thanks to Twitter – anyone can have a following.

In an age where anyone can claim to be an expert, it pays to do some research before taking ‘expert’ advice!

Quick marketing tip

Right now, no matter what kind of business you are in, one person or company is leading the way; locally, nationally or internationally.  These elite providers get to work with the most commercially valuable clients and their name is usually on everyone’s lips – but why?

A great marketing question

Most businesses spend their time focusing on their own little ecosystem.  They focus on their own business and their client’s or customers – that’s it.

Why not take some time out and do some research on what the top people in your industry are doing right now, which you could learn from or improve upon? This study of success can be extremely illuminating and a very effective way to make a lot of progress, very quickly!